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Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid Of a Colonoscopy

If you shudder at the thought of having a colonoscopy, you’re not alone. A recent study by the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) found that 70 percent of Americans ignore recommendations for screening colonoscopies due to fear. While it’s true the procedure is hardly anyone’s idea of fun, putting it off can leave you at risk for colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, into the rectum and guides it around the entirety of the colon, searching for abnormal growths. If any are found, the doctor can remove them during the procedure before they pose any health threat. Many fear that a colonoscopy will be a painful, uncomfortable procedure, when in fact, the sedative patients receive prior to the examination prevents pain or discomfort. Furthermore, most people sleep through their colonoscopy and have no memory of the procedure itself.

Colon cancer has a 90 percent survival rate when it is detected early, and a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard of colon cancer screening as it can remove tumors before they develop into cancer. In the CCA’s survey of 1,700 people, 50 percent reported that the colonoscopy itself was the easiest part of the screening experience, while 75 percent said the bowel preparation process the day before the procedure, which consists of a liquid-only diet and the use of laxatives, was the hardest part. And while the bowel preparation may be unpleasant, it is not painful.

Don’t let fear get in the way of having a colonoscopy. The procedure itself lasts only 30-60 minutes, and patients may resume normal activities the next day. To learn more about the colonoscopy process, click here. To find a screening center near you, click here.

posted on January 21, 2014 in news